SOUTH AFRICA – The Competition Commission said on Thursday it was conducting a search and seizure raid at 5 companies.
These companies are all involved in the manufacture and distribution of refined edible oils, baking fats and margarine in South Africa. The companies operate in Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal provinces.
In a statement, it said it had “reasonable grounds” to suspect that Wilmar Continental Edible Oils and Fats, Willowton Oil and Cake Mills,FR Waring Holdings, Africa Sun Oil Refineries and Epic Foods “have engaged in cartel conduct which includes price-fixing in the market for the manufacture and distribution of refined edible oils including baking fats and margarine”.
The alleged conduct is believed to have started before 2007 and is still on-going.
“Food and agro-processing is an important focus area for the Competition Commission, and we are determined to root out exploitation of consumers by cartels that are so prevalent in this sector. We have, in particular, been monitoring developments in the fats and oils markets and what we see is worrisome,” says Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele.
The Competition Commission operation says the raid is part of an ongoing investigation initiated by the Commissioner.
During the search the commission will seize documents, records and electronic data which will be analysed, together with other information gathered, to determine whether these companies have contravened the Competition Act.
The Commission obtained search and seizure warrants from the High Courts in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, respectively, in terms of section 46 of the Competition Act. The operation is being conducted with due regard to the rights of all the affected persons.